Already, one Israeli officer has been identified as a target of
international prosecution, Middle East Newsline reported. A senior prosecutor at the International Criminal
Court in The Hague identified Lt. Col. David Benjamin, who is also a South
African national, as a suspected war criminal in connection with his work at
the Military Advocate General's international law department, which helped
determine Hamas and other targets in the Gaza Strip.
"Lt. Col. David Benjamin is a respected officer who served for many
years in legal positions in the IDF, and assisted the military in managing
its activities in accordance with the rules of international law," an
Israeli military statement said.
Officials said the military has urged its EU counterparts to oppose
arrest warrants for Israeli officers. They said EU militaries were also
asked to inform Israel of any warrants before the arrival of military
delegations from the Jewish state.
Over the last three years, Israeli officers have avoided several
attempts to be summoned to European courts on charges of war crimes.
Officials said the threat of prosecution, initiated by Muslim and
pro-Palestinian groups, has limited visits by Israeli field officers.
In mid-September, a report by UN special envoy Richard Goldstone
recommended that ICC examine the prospect of arrest warrants against Israeli
officers in the 23-day war against Hamas. The Goldstone report accused
Israel of targeting civilians in Operation Cast Lead. Israel has not been a
signatory the 2002 Rome Treaty, which established the court.
Since then, both Israeli commanders as well as senior officials have
been under threat. In late September, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak,
threatened with a warrant on charges of war crimes, solicited the protection
of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown before arriving for a brief visit to
Officials said the Israeli military has appealed to EU states not to
issue arrest warrants before discussing the issue with the Jewish state.
They said the Israeli military would cooperate in releasing details of the
role of officers suspected by the UN of war crimes.
"The Goldstone Report seems to have created legitimacy to chase after
us," said Israeli parliamentarian Nachman Shai, who has drafted a bill that
require the state to finance the legal battle against officers. "We
need to be sure that the people who followed orders and served this country
are safe and protected."